Importance: Palliative care has shown benefits in reducing symptom intensity and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer. However, high-quality evidence to support palliative care policy and service developments for patients with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) is lacking.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a short-term integrated palliative care (SIPC) intervention for people with LTNCs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Multicenter, phase 3, randomized clinical trial conducted from April 1, 2015, to November 30, 2017, with a last follow-up date of May 31, 2018, in 7 UK hospitals with both neurology and palliative care services. A total of 535 patients with LTNC were assessed for eligibility and 350 were randomized. Inclusion criteria were patients 18 years or older with any advanced stage of multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, idiopathic Parkinson disease multiple system atrophy, or progressive supranuclear palsy. Data were analyzed from November 2018 to March 2019.
Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 using minimization method to receive SIPC (intervention, n = 176) or standard care (control, n = 174).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcome was change in 8 key palliative care symptoms from baseline to 12-weeks, measured by the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale for neurological conditions. Secondary outcomes included change in the burden of other symptoms, health-related quality of life, caregiver burden, and costs. Data were collected and analyzed blindly by intention to treat.
Results: A total of 350 patients (mean [SD] age 67  years; years since diagnosis, 12 [range, 0-56]; 51% men; 49% requiring considerable assistance) with an advanced stage of LTNC were recruited, along with informal caregivers (n = 229). There were no between-group differences in primary outcome (effect size, -0.16; 95% CI, -0.37 to 0.05), any other patient-reported outcomes, adverse events, or survival. Although there was more symptom reduction in the SIPC group in relation to mean change in primary outcome, the difference between the groups was not statistically significant (-0.78; 95% CI, -1.29 to -0.26 vs -0.28; 95% CI, -0.82 to 0.26; P = .14). There was a decrease in mean health and social care costs from baseline to 12 weeks -$1367 (95% CI, -$2450 to -$282) in the SIPC group and -653 (95% CI, -$1839 to -$532) in the control group, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = .12). SIPC was perceived by patients and caregivers as building resilience, attending to function and deficits, and enabling caregivers.
Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, SIPC was not statistically significantly different from standard care for the patient-reported outcomes. However, SIPC was associated with lower cost, and in qualitative analysis was well-received by patients and caregivers, and there were no safety concerns. Further research is warranted.
Background: Patients living in rural areas experience a variety of unmet needs that result in healthcare disparities. The triple threat of rural geography, racial inequities, and older age hinders access to high-quality palliative care (PC) for a significant proportion of Americans. Rural patients with life-limiting illness are at risk of not receiving appropriate palliative care due to a limited specialty workforce, long distances to treatment centers, and limited PC clinical expertise. Although culture strongly influences people’s response to diagnosis, illness, and treatment preferences, culturally based care models are not currently available for most seriously ill rural patients and their family caregivers. The purpose of this randomized clinical trial (RCT) is to compare a culturally based tele-consult program (that was developed by and for the rural southern African American (AA) and White (W) population) to usual hospital care to determine the impact on symptom burden (primary outcome) and patient and care partner quality of life (QOL), care partner burden, and resource use post-discharge (secondary outcomes) in hospitalized AA and White older adults with a life-limiting illness.
Methods: Community Tele-pal is a three-site RCT that will test the efficacy of a community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for hospitalized rural AA and W older adults with life-limiting illnesses (n = 352) and a care partner. Half of the participants (n = 176) and a care partner (n = 176) will be randomized to receive the culturally based palliative care consult. The other half of the patient participants (n = 176) and care partners (n = 176) will receive usual hospital care appropriate to their illness.
Discussion: This is the first community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for rural southern AA and W populations. If effective, the tele-consult palliative program and methods will serve as a model for future culturally based PC programs that can reduce patients’ symptoms and care partner burden.
Importance: National guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure, which disproportionately affects rural and minority populations.
Objective: To determine the effect of an early palliative care telehealth intervention over 16 weeks on the quality of life, mood, global health, pain, and resource use of patients with advanced heart failure.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind, intervention vs usual care randomized clinical trial was conducted from October 1, 2015, to May 31, 2019, among 415 patients 50 years or older with New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure or American College of Cardiology stage C or D heart failure at a large Southeastern US academic tertiary medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center serving high proportions of rural dwellers and African American individuals.
Interventions: The ENABLE CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers) intervention comprises an in-person palliative care consultation and 6 weekly nurse-coach telephonic sessions (20-40 minutes) and monthly follow-up for 48 weeks.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were quality of life (as measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ]: score range, 0-100; higher scores indicate better perceived health status and clinical summary scores =50 are considered “fairly good” quality of life; and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Palliative-14 [FACIT-Pal-14]: score range, 0-56; higher scores indicate better quality of life) and mood (as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Global Health), pain (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Pain Intensity and Interference), and resource use (hospital days and emergency department visits).
Results: Of 415 participants (221 men; baseline mean [SD] age, 63.8 [8.5] years) randomized to ENABLE CHF-PC (n = 208) or usual care (n = 207), 226 (54.5%) were African American, 108 (26.0%) lived in a rural area, and 190 (45.8%) had a high-school education or less, and a mean (SD) baseline KCCQ score of 52.6 (21.0). At week 16, the mean (SE) KCCQ score improved 3.9 (1.3) points in the intervention group vs 2.3 (1.2) in the usual care group (difference, 1.6; SE, 1.7; d = 0.07 [95% CI, -0.09 to 0.24]) and the mean (SE) FACIT-Pal-14 score improved 1.4 (0.6) points in the intervention group vs 0.2 (0.5) points in the usual care group (difference, 1.2; SE, 0.8; d = 0.12 [95% CI, -0.03 to 0.28]). There were no relevant between-group differences in mood (HADS-anxiety, d = -0.02 [95% CI, –0.20 to 0.16]; HADS-depression, d = –0.09 [95% CI, –0.24 to 0.06]).
Conclusions and Relevance: This randomized clinical trial with a majority African American sample and baseline good quality of life did not demonstrate improved quality of life or mood with a 16-week early palliative care telehealth intervention. However, pain intensity and interference (secondary outcomes) demonstrated a clinically important improvement.
BACKGROUND: Digital tools to document care preferences in serious illnesses are increasingly common, but their impact is unknown. We developed a web-based advance directive (AD) featuring (1) modular content eliciting detailed care preferences, (2) the ability to electronically transmit ADs to the electronic health record (EHR), and (3) use of nudges to promote document transmission and sharing.
OBJECTIVE: To compare a web-based, EHR-transmissible AD to a paper AD.
METHODS: Patients with gastrointestinal and lung malignancies were randomized to the web or paper AD. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with newly documented advance care plans in the EHR at 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes assessed through an e-mail survey included the change in satisfaction with end-of-life plans, AD acceptability, and self-reported sharing with a surrogate.
RESULTS: Ninety-one participants were enrolled: 46 randomly allocated to the web AD and 45 to paper. Thirteen patients assigned to web AD (28%) had new documentation versus 7 (16%) assigned to paper (P = .14). Adjusted for demographic factors and primary diagnosis, the odds ratio of new documentation with web AD was 3.7 (95% CI: 0.8-17.0, P = .10). Satisfaction with advance care planning and AD acceptability were high in both groups and not significantly different. Among patients completing web ADs, 79% reported sharing plans with their caregivers, compared with 65% of those completing paper ADs (P = .40).
CONCLUSION: Web-based ADs hold promise for promoting documentation and sharing of preferences, but larger studies are needed to quantify effects on these intermediate end points and on patient-centered outcomes.
Objective: Patients with cancer face numerous problems at the end of their lives, which makes palliative care necessary for a peaceful death. Considering the important role nurses play in the provision of end-of-life care, the present study was conducted to study the effect of a traditional training method on nurses' perception of and clinical competency in providing end-of-life care to patients with cancer in a hospital in Southeastern Iran.
Methods: This was a pilot clinical trial in which the nurses in an oncology ward were allocated to two groups, experimental (n = 24) and control (n = 33), using a table of random numbers. The experiment group received three sessions of workshop training. The nurses' perception and clinical competency were measured before and 3 months postintervention.
Results: The results showed the perception scores in the experimental and control groups to be 171.75 ± 19.54 and 170.03 ± 17.03 before education and 176.16 ± 19.54 and 176.12 ± 16.12 postintervention, respectively. The scores of clinical competency were 98.71 ± 10.24 and 99.58 ± 12.17 before education and 101.5 ± 14.67 and 104.97 ± 12 postintervention in the experimental and control groups, respectively. According to the findings, neither of the groups showed a significant difference between pre- and post-intervention in terms of perception of or clinical competency in end-of-life care.
Conclusions: A traditional training method such as workshop training cannot cause long-term improvement in nurses' end-of-life care perception or clinical competency. It seems that nurses would benefit from acquiring cognitive and behavioral skills and knowledge through a more continuous form of instruction delivered through modern blended educational methods.
The purpose of this article is to describe the lessons learned in the course of a 5-year research study on a palliative care intervention for persons on a Phase 1 clinical trial. Patients who are participating in Phase 1 trials and the families who care for them may be especially vulnerable and require special attention. The patients are generally experiencing the effects of advanced disease, and they also may soon experience unknown side effects, intense treatment regimens, and the emotional stress of an uncertain future as a result of clinical trial participation. Oncology nurses in all roles including clinical trials/research nurses, clinicians, educators, and advanced practice registered nurses play a critical role in addressing the quality-of-life concerns in this population. Palliative care can provide better symptom control and information on treatment options and facilitate a better understanding of patient/family goals. Attending to these factors can ultimately mean improved survival for the advanced cancer patient, and support for these patients can assist in advancing the field of oncology as these investigational therapies hold the promise for enhancing survival.
Limited research is available on parental decision-making regarding their children's participation in pediatric phase I oncology trials compared with the adult population. The objectives of this review were to describe: (1) the process of parental decision-making in this situation; (2) the optimal communication features physicians need when proposing inclusion in such trials; and (3) the place of the child/adolescent in the assent process. Thirty relevant studies meeting inclusion criteria were identified by searching five computerized databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Cairn, Psychinfo, EM Premium). Parental decision-making is a complex process based on hopeful expectations, multiple family considerations and the child's previous cancer experience. It is highly impacted by the quality of physicians' communication. A therapeutic alliance along with an empathetic attitude and a timely delivery of accurate information is essential. Due weight should be given to the voice of children or adolescents and their optimal level of involvement may be discussed depending on their age and maturity. They should be given age-adapted information in order to empower them to be rightfully and meaningfully involved in early-phase research. This review highlights the main gaps and necessary remedial actions to support an optimal patient care management in this situation. Physicians' training in communication, structured interdisciplinary teamwork and early integration of palliative care are three key challenges which need to be implemented to actively engage in optimization strategies which would improve patient care and family support when offering enrollment in a phase I trial.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic treatment is no longer available may be offered participation in early phase clinical trials. In the decision making process, both medical-technical information and patient values and preferences are important. Since patients report decisional conflict after deciding on participation in these trials, improving the decision making process is essential. We aim to develop and evaluate an Online Value Clarification Tool (OnVaCT) to assist patients in clarifying their values around this end-of-life decision. This improved sharing of values is hypothesized to support medical oncologists in tailoring their information to individual patients’ needs and, consequently, to support patients in taking decisions in line with their values and reduce decisional conflict.
Methods: In the first part, patients’ values and preferences and medical oncologists’ views hereupon will be explored in interviews and focus groups to build a first prototype OnVaCT using digital communication (serious gaming). Next, we will test feasibility during think aloud sessions, to deliver a ready-to-implement OnVaCT. In the second part, the OnVaCT, with accompanied training module, will be evaluated in a pre-test (12–18 months before implementation) post-test (12–18 months after implementation) study in three major Dutch cancer centres. We will include 276 patients (> 18 years) with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic therapy is no longer available, and who are referred for participation in early phase clinical trials. The first consultation will be recorded to analyse patient-physician communication regarding the discussion of patients’ values and the decision making process. Three weeks afterwards, decisional conflict will be measured.
Discussion: This project aims to support the discussion of patient values when considering participation in early phase clinical trials. By including patients before their first appointment with the medical oncologist and recording that consultation, we are able to link decisional conflict to the decision making process, e.g. the communication during consultation. The study faces challenges such as timely including patients within the short period between referral and first consultation. Furthermore, with new treatments being developed rapidly, molecular stratification may affect the patient populations included in the pre-test and post-test periods.
The global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has seen a deluge of clinical studies, with hundreds registered on clinicaltrials.gov. But a palpable sense of urgency and a lingering concern that “in critical situations, large randomized controlled trials are not always feasible or ethical" perpetuate the perception that, when it comes to the rigors of science, crisis situations demand exceptions to high standards for quality. Early phase studies have been launched before completion of investigations that would normally be required to warrant further development of the intervention, and treatment trials have used research strategies that are easy to implement but unlikely to yield unbiased effect estimates. Numerous trials investigating similar hypotheses risk duplication of effort, and droves of research papers have been rushed to preprint servers, essentially outsourcing peer review to practicing physicians and journalists. Although crises present major logistical and practical challenges, the moral mission of research remains the same: to reduce uncertainty and enable caregivers, health systems, and policy-makers to better address individual and public health. Rather than generating permission to carry out low-quality investigations, the urgency and scarcity of pandemics heighten the responsibility of key actors in the research enterprise to coordinate their activities to uphold the standards necessary to advance this mission.
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INTRODUCTION: Equitable delivery of advance care planning and symptom management among patients is crucial to improving cancer care. Existing interventions to improve the uptake of these services have predominantly occurred in clinic settings and are limited in their effectiveness, particularly among low-income and minority populations.
METHODS: The "Lay health worker Educates Engages and Activates Patients to Share (LEAPS)" intervention was developed to improve advance care planning and symptom management among low-income and minority hourly-wage workers with cancer, in two community settings. The intervention provides a lay health worker to all patients newly diagnosed with cancer and aims to educate and activate patients to engage in advance care planning and symptom management with their oncology providers. In this randomized clinical trial, we will evaluate the effect on quality of life (primary outcome) using the validated Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General Survey, at enrollment, 4- and 12- months post-enrollment. We will examine between-group differences on our secondary outcomes of patient activation, patient satisfaction with healthcare decision-making, and symptom burden (at enrollment, 4- and 12-months post-enrollment), and total healthcare use and healthcare costs (at 12-months post-enrollment).
DISCUSSION: Multilevel approaches are urgently needed to improve cancer care delivery among low-income and minority patients diagnosed with cancer in community settings. The current study describes the LEAPS intervention, the study design, and baseline characteristics of the community centers participating in the study.
We do not know how much clinical physicians carrying out clinical trials in oncology and haematology struggle with ethical concerns. To our knowledge, no empirical research exists on these questions in a Nordic context. Therefore, this study aims to learn what kinds of ethical challenges physicians in Sweden, Denmark and Finland (n = 29) face when caring for patients in clinical trials; and what strategies, if any, they have developed to deal with them. The main findings were that clinical cancer trials pose ethical challenges related to autonomy issues, unreasonable hope for benefits and the therapeutic misconception. Nevertheless, some physicians expressed that struggling with such challenges was not of great concern. This conveys a culture of hope where health care professionals and patients uphold hope and mutually support belief in clinical trials. This culture being implicit, physicians need opportunities to deliberately reflect over the characteristics that should constitute this culture.
Importance: Parkinson disease and related disorders (PDRD) have consequences for quality of life (QoL) and are the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. Despite growing interest in palliative care (PC) for persons with PDRD, few studies are available supporting its effectiveness.
Objective: To determine if outpatient PC is associated with improvements in patient-centered outcomes compared with standard care among patients with PDRD and their caregivers.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This randomized clinical trial enrolled participants at 3 academic tertiary care centers between November 1, 2015, and September 30, 2017, and followed them up for 1 year. A total of 584 persons with PDRD were referred to the study. Of those, 351 persons were excluded by phone and 23 were excluded during in-person screenings. Patients were eligible to participate if they had PDRD and moderate to high PC needs. Patients were excluded if they had urgent PC needs, another diagnosis meriting PC, were already receiving PC, or were unable or unwilling to follow the study protocol. Enrolled participants were assigned to receive standard care plus outpatient integrated PC or standard care alone. Data were analyzed between November 1, 2018, and December 9, 2019.
Interventions: Outpatient integrated PC administered by a neurologist, social worker, chaplain, and nurse using PC checklists, with guidance and selective involvement from a palliative medicine specialist. Standard care was provided by a neurologist and a primary care practitioner.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were the differences in patient quality of life (QoL; measured by the Quality of Life in Alzheimer Disease scale) and caregiver burden (measured by the Zarit Burden Interview) between the PC intervention and standard care groups at 6 months.
Results: A total of 210 patients with PDRD (135 men [64.3%]; mean [SD] age, 70.1 [8.2] years) and 175 caregivers (128 women [73.1%]; mean [SD] age, 66.1 [11.1] years) were enrolled in the study; 193 participants (91.9%) were white and non-Hispanic. Compared with participants receiving standard care alone at 6 months, participants receiving the PC intervention had better QoL (mean [SD], 0.66 [5.5] improvement vs 0.84 [4.2] worsening; treatment effect estimate, 1.87; 95% CI, 0.47-3.27; P = .009). No significant difference was observed in caregiver burden (mean [SD], 2.3 [5.0] improvement vs 1.2 [5.6] improvement in the standard care group; treatment effect estimate, -1.62; 95% CI, -3.32 to 0.09; P = .06). Other significant differences favoring the PC intervention included nonmotor symptom burden, motor symptom severity, completion of advance directives, caregiver anxiety, and caregiver burden at 12 months. No outcomes favored standard care alone. Secondary analyses suggested that benefits were greater for persons with higher PC needs.
onclusions and Relevance: Outpatient PC is associated with benefits among patients with PDRD compared with standard care alone. This study supports efforts to integrate PC into PDRD care. The lack of diversity and implementation of PC at experienced centers suggests a need for implementation research in other populations and care settings.
Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02533921
We consider uncertainty in relation to clinical trials for terminal non-small cell lung cancer, which is an aggressive and difficult to treat form of cancer. Using grounded theory to analyse 85 clinical interactions between doctors, patients and family members, we argue that uncertainty is a major source of tension for terminally ill patients, with individuals confronting a choice between transitioning to palliative care or volunteering for an experimental/trial medication that might postpone death. Regardless of their efficacy, patients must also consider how such experimental treatments might impact their quality-of-life. We argue that clinical trials produce uncertainty through (i) discussions about the efficacy of clinical trials; (ii) the physiological consequences of clinical trial medications; and (iii) the impact clinical trials have on patient's prognostic understanding of their terminal cancer. Accordingly, while study participants encounter high prognostic certainty (i.e. they have a fatal cancer), they nonetheless experience considerable uncertainty in relation to their participation in clinical trials.
OBJECTIVES: In non-gynecologic cancers, clinical trial participation has been associated with aggressive care at the end of life. The objective of this investigation was to examine how trial participation affects end of life outcomes in patients with ovarian cancer.
METHODS: In a retrospective review of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer at our institution between January 2010 and December 2015, we collected variables identified by the National Quality Forum as measures of aggressive end of life care including chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life, intensive care unit (ICU) admission in the last 30 days of life, or death in the acute care setting. Trials investigating medications but not surgical interventions were included. The primary outcome of this study was the association between trial participation and the National Quality Forum measures of aggressive end of life care in ovarian cancer decedents. Data were analyzed with univariable and multivariable parametric and non-parametric testing, and time to event outcomes were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox's proportional hazard models.
RESULTS: Among 391 women treated for ovarian cancer, 62 patients (16%) participated in a clinical trial. Patients enrolled in clinical trials were more likely to have chemotherapy administered within 14 days of death; however, no association was found with other metrics of aggressive care at the end of life including the initiation of a new chemotherapy regimen in the last 30 days of life, ICU admissions, and death in an acute care setting. Among patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, median overall survival for trial participants was 57 months compared with only 31 months in non-trial participants (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with ovarian cancer, clinical trial enrollment is associated with chemotherapy administration within 14 days of death, but not other measures of aggressive care at the end of life. Given the importance of clinical trial participation in improving care for women with ovarian cancer, this study suggests that concerns regarding aggressive care prior to death should not limit clinical trial participation.
BACKGROUND: Although patients often prefer less rather than more treatment at the end of life, in the absence of contrary instructions, the medical profession's de facto position is to treat aggressively. It is unknown whether a computer-based decision aid can affect treatment choices.
METHODS: Secondary analysis of a single-center, single-blind randomized controlled trial of an advance care planning (ACP) intervention among 200 patients with stage IV cancer. Participants were randomized to intervention (Making Your Wishes Known, a values-neutral, educational, computer-based decision aid) or control (standard living will + brochure). After reading a hypothetical clinical vignette, participants were asked whether they would want 11 medical/surgical treatments in that situation (dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR], ventilator, feeding tube, etc). The median number of treatments wanted by participants was compared between groups, and logistic regression was used to compare between-group likelihood of not wanting each specific treatment.
RESULTS: The median number of treatments wanted was 1 in the intervention group versus 5 in the control (P < .001). For 6 of 11 treatments, the intervention group was significantly less likely than control to want aggressive treatment. Most notably, compared to control, intervention participants were less likely to want CPR (odds ratio [OR] = 0.31), short-term mechanical ventilation (OR = 0.34), short-term dialysis (OR = 0.38), surgery (OR = 0.37), and transfusion (OR = 0.21).
CONCLUSIONS: Individuals using an educational ACP decision aid were less likely to want aggressive medical treatment than those completing standard living wills. These findings have implications not only for how to respect patient's wishes but also potentially for reducing costs at the end of life.
Background: There is considerable interest in the use of cannabinoids for symptom control in palliative care, but there is little high-quality evidence to guide clinical practice.
Objectives: Assess the feasibility of using global symptom burden measures to assess response to medicinal cannabis, to determine median tolerated doses of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and to document adverse events (AEs).
Design: Prospective two-arm open-label pilot trial of escalating doses of CBD and THC oil.
Setting/Subjects: Participants had advanced cancer and cancer-related symptoms in a palliative and supportive care service in an Australian cancer center.
Measurements: The main outcome measures were the number of participants screened and randomized over the time frame, the number of participants completing days 14 and 28 and providing total symptom distress scores (TSDSs) (measured using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale), and the change from baseline of the TSDS at day 14.
Results: Of the 21 participants enrolled (CBD, n = 16; THC, n = 5), 18 (86%) completed the primary outcome measure at day 14 and 8 completed at day 28. The median maximum tolerated doses were CBD, 300 mg/day (range 100–600 mg); THC, 10 mg/day (range 5–30 mg). Nine of 21 patients (43%) met the definition of response (=6 point reduction in TSDS). Drowsiness was the most common AE.
Conclusions: Trials of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer patients undergoing palliative care are feasible. The doses of THC and CBD used in this study were generally well tolerated and the outcome measure of total symptom distress is promising as a measure of overall symptom benefit. Trial registration: ACTRN12618001205224.
Importance: High-quality evidence on how to improve palliative care in nursing homes is lacking.
Objective: To investigate the effect of the Palliative Care for Older People (PACE) Steps to Success Program on resident and staff outcomes.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A cluster-randomized clinical trial (2015-2017) in 78 nursing homes in 7 countries comparing PACE Steps to Success Program (intervention) with usual care (control). Randomization was stratified by country and median number of beds in each country in a 1:1 ratio.
Interventions: The PACE Steps to Success Program is a multicomponent intervention to integrate basic nonspecialist palliative care in nursing homes. Using a train-the-trainer approach, an external trainer supports staff in nursing homes to introduce a palliative care approach over the course of 1 year following a 6-steps program. The steps are (1) advance care planning with residents and family, (2) assessment, care planning, and review of needs and problems, (3) coordination of care via monthly multidisciplinary review meetings, (4) delivery of high-quality care focusing on pain and depression, (5) care in the last days of life, and (6) care after death.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary resident outcome was comfort in the last week of life measured after death by staff using the End-of-Life in Dementia Scale Comfort Assessment While Dying (EOLD-CAD; range, 14-42). The primary staff outcome was knowledge of palliative care reported by staff using the Palliative Care Survey (PCS; range, 0-1).
Results: Concerning deceased residents, we collected 551 of 610 questionnaires from staff at baseline and 984 of 1178 postintervention in 37 intervention and 36 control homes. Mean (SD) age at time of death ranged between 85.22 (9.13) and 85.91 (8.57) years, and between 60.6% (160/264) and 70.6% (190/269) of residents were women across the different groups. Residents’ comfort in the last week of life did not differ between intervention and control groups (baseline-adjusted mean difference, -0.55; 95% CI, -1.71 to 0.61; P = .35). Concerning staff, we collected 2680 of 3638 questionnaires at baseline and 2437 of 3510 postintervention in 37 intervention and 38 control homes. Mean (SD) age of staff ranged between 42.3 (12.1) and 44.1 (11.7) years, and between 87.2% (1092/1253) and 89% (1224/1375) of staff were women across the different groups. Staff in the intervention group had statistically significantly better knowledge of palliative care than staff in the control group, but the clinical difference was minimal (baseline-adjusted mean difference, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.02-0.05; P < .001). Data analyses began on April 20, 2018.
Conclusions and Relevance: Residents' comfort in the last week of life did not improve after introducing the PACE Steps to Success Program. Improvements in staff knowledge of palliative care were clinically not important.
Trial Registration: ISRCTN Identifier: ISRCTN14741671.
Background/Aims: Numerous changes can occur between the original design plans for clinical trials, the submission of funding proposals, and the implementation of the clinical trial. In the hospice setting, environmental changes can present significant obstacles, which require changes to the original plan designs, recruitment, and staffing. The purpose of the study was to share lessons and problem-solving strategies that can assist in future hospice trials.
Methods: This study uses one hospice clinical trial as an exemplar to demonstrate challenges for clinical trial research in this setting. Using preliminary data collected during the first months of a trial, the research team details the many ways their current protocol reflects changes from the originally proposed plans. Experiences are used as an exemplar to address the following questions: 1) How do research environments change between the initial submission of a funding proposal and the eventual award? 2) How can investigators maintain the integrity of the research and accommodate unexpected changes in the research environment?
Results: The changing environment within the hospice setting required design, sampling, and recruitment changes within the first year. The decision-making process resulted in a stronger design with greater generalization. As a result of necessary protocol changes, the study results are positioned to be translational following the study conclusion.
Conclusion: Researchers would do well to review their protocol and statistics early in a clinical trial. They should be prepared for adjustments to accommodate market and environmental changes outside their control. Ongoing data monitoring, specifically related to recruitment, is advised.
Heart failure (HF) is a progressive condition with high mortality and heavy symptom burden. Despite guideline recommendations, cardiologists refer to palliative care at rates much lower than other specialties and very late in the course of the disease, often in the final 3 days of life. One reason for delayed referral is that prognostication is challenging in patients with HF, making it unclear when and how the limited resources of specialist palliative care will be most beneficial. It might be more prudent to consider palliative care referrals at critical moments in the trajectory of patients with HF. These include: a) the development of poor prognostic signs in the outpatient setting; b) hospitalization or intensive care unit admission, and c) at the time of evaluation for certain procedures, such as left ventricular assist device placement and ablation for refractory ventricular arrhythmias, among others. In this review, we also summarize the results of clinical trials evaluating palliative interventions in these settings.
L’inclusion dans les essais précoces provoque de nombreux questionnements d’un point de vue pratique, mais aussi éthique. L’objectif de ce travail est de montrer que ces enjeux dépassent largement la simple ouverture d’un essai et l’inclusion d’un enfant dont la pathologie correspond aux critères.